First Focus




Tax ID:


Experian Number:

718606531 (Experian)

Budget (2020):

Revenue: $3,045,271
Expenses: $2,445,695
Assets: $3,320,774

President (2023):

Bruce Lesley

Tax-Exempt Status:


Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

First Focus on Children (or simply First Focus) is a policy organization that advocates for making children and families the focus of all budget decisions at the federal level.


First Focus claims not to advocate particular policies on education, healthcare, welfare, housing, or taxation but to be alleged bipartisan advocates concerned solely with advancing the safety of children. First Focus defends government programs and policies such as Medicaid, claiming that 35 million children get healthcare through it; the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program; the federal Earned Income Tax Credit; and the Child Tax Credit. It asserts that the latter two tax programs are allegedly responsible for lifting “five million children out of poverty.” 1

First Focus carries out its advocacy through raising awareness with its analysis and research, Capitol Hill briefings, and one-on-one meetings in which staffers speak directly to politicians and their teams. It also pursues media coverage and social media communications, researches and drafts policy papers for policymakers to use, commissions opinion research, promotes proposed best practices to institutions involved in child welfare, mobilizes partner organizations, and publicly recognizes politicians who have aligned views. 2


In 2019, First Focus had a revenue of $2,832,112, expenses of $2,325,476, and net assets of $2,574,303. 3

First Focus facilitates state regrants for U.S. states, meaning that states give First Focus a budget to then distribute to small organizations on their behalf. In 2019, recipients of First Focus’s state regrant program included Child and Family Policy Center, Children Now, Children Forward, Children’s Action Alliance, Advocates for Children, Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, Children First, Juvenile Law Center, True North Group, and Massachusetts’s Law Reform Institute. 4


As of 2023, Bruce Lesley was the president of First Focus. He has worked in public policy for over 30 years. He has been president of First Focus since at least 2010 and is responsible for both policy development and the internal operations of the organization. Previously he worked on Capitol Hill specializing in healthcare, education, human services, and immigration issues. He worked under Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) as senior health policy advisor on the Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committees, as well as Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) on the Senate Finance Committee. 5

As of 2023, First Focus’s board was comprised of Michelle “Missy” Apodaca, attorney at Katten Muchin Rosemann LLP; Anthony Chapple, senior associate vice president of medical economics at Texas Medical Association; Glenn Flores, professor and chair of pediatrics at University of Miami; Dennis Johnson, managing director for strategy and evaluation at Mother Cabrini Health Foundation; Mike Laracy, senior fellow at Annie E. Casey Foundation; Messellech Looby, senior vice president of development and strategy at First Focus; Ronnie Musgrove, Musgrove Smith Law employee and former governor of Mississippi; Joe Payne, president and CEO of Code42; Suzanna Valdez, Roberto Viramontes, chief impact officer at Taproot Foundation, and  the director of college access and success at UNITE-LA. 6


  1. [1] “First Focus.” LinkedIn. Accessed May 7, 2023.
  2. “First Focus.” LinkedIn. Accessed May 7, 2023.
  3. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). First Focus on Children. 2019. Part I, lines 12, 18, 22.
  4. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). First Focus on Children. 2019. Schedule I, Part II, Grants and Other Assistance to Domestic Organizations and Domestic Governments.
  5. “Bruce Lesley.” First Focus. Accessed May 7, 2023.
  6. “Board of Directors.” First Focus. Accessed May 7, 2023.
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: October 1, 2016

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2020 Dec Form 990 $3,045,271 $2,445,695 $3,320,774 $146,895 N $3,003,178 $25,000 $17,093 $385,000
    2019 Dec Form 990 $2,832,112 $2,325,476 $2,758,728 $184,425 N $2,798,662 $12,620 $20,830 $347,200 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $2,764,845 $2,561,874 $2,346,119 $278,452 N $2,752,441 $5,000 $7,404 $332,552 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $4,464,602 $2,565,547 $2,354,193 $489,497 N $4,407,530 $56,000 $1,072 $345,199 PDF

    First Focus

    1400 I ST NW STE 560
    WASHINGTON, DC 20005-6506